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Sunday, 27 December 2015

An Interview With Jon From Gorilla Perfumes Islington


Since opening on the ninetieth of July 2014, Gorilla Perfumes has grown and become a favourite shop among many. Situated in a quaint little street of Camden Passage, Islington, the Gorilla Perfumes store is the only store dedicated solely to Lush perfumes. This whimsical place already holds such happiness for me. I love a chance to step out of the bustle and immerse myself in nothing but my love of perfume. These perfumes hold such meaning to me and have helped me a lot through the last year, so I was so delighted when Jon, the manager of the store, agreed to let me interview him and find out all I could.

1. Can you tell us about the creation of the only store dedicated to Gorilla Perfume!

We opened a year and a half ago and decided to open a stand alone store, so there was somewhere all the perfumes could be available. They were available online, but it was no good for people who wanted to smell them. It gave us somewhere to showcase the product in terms of artwork and collaborations. It was set up to have the space they don't have in lush stores. When they have released loads of perfumes at the same time, around ten, they have had a stall for a week or so but this is the first permanent store.

2. What do you feel the store offers people, that a normal Lush store doesn't?

Its a very different atmosphere, it gives people the opportunity to explore the perfumes without the interruption of all the other scents in a lush store. There are all background scents which some customers find can change the way they feel about a scent, so here it's like a blank canvas to really get to know a scent. Because we are located on such a small street, it gives people a real opportunity to get to know the scent. I think perfume is a tricky thing to explore because its invisible so it can only be explored in a nice quiet place, it really makes the perfume come alive.

3. How long have you been apart of the store and what did you do before?

Well, I've been with lush since 2006, so nine years. I've worked in many different areas of the company and worked in many different stores around London. I've also worked as part of the international team, seeing how the other markets are doing. Thats what I did just before being a part of this team. As you said, perfumes are such a massive part of why I love lush. Perfumes are what I'm drawn to most, so to specialise and be surrounded by them is like my idea of heaven, each one of them feel like a family member.

4. What changes has the store seen since it was first opened?

I think since it first opened theres been many things that have remained the same. The core team here has always been the same, which has really helped keep the service consistent, and the experience. The things that have changed; we've had limited edition perfumes 25:43 for our birthday, and back again for Christmas. Tuca Tuca has made a surprising comeback, a surprise to us, we only found out about that last week. So things happen very quickly within lush, and especially gorilla perfumes.

How do you feel about that as I know some love it and some hate it?
I think thats the difference between the people who really know the brand, they maybe understand a little bit more about how things work behind the scenes and how products can be delivered, and created, in days. With Oxford Street, many of their products were being thought up and made up just before the store opened, which is incredible when you think other companies can take years to develop a new product. It means for us, things can happen spontaneously. I understand that more people would like more information. For me, the excitement is suddenly having something available. I think thats why the kitchen works so well, because people don't know in advance whats going to happen, they know each week.

5. What inspired the events the store holds? Such as scented songs and chocolate pairing?

well, both those thing have their roots in stores. We've had chocolate tasting in the popup shop and we collaborate with chocolatiers, Edward and Irwin. Thats how we've formed a relationship, they are so great at researching the perfumes and understanding the ingredients. All of your senses would mix, which goes along with the whole synastesia aspect. I think one emotion can trigger other senses. I think with a perspective like that, you can use it as a tool to control your emotions.

We also do scented songs every two weeks. In the previous popups and gallery we've had scented events, like scented cinemas. But this is a smaller location, we wanted to see what else we could do here.  I really love the idea of featuring music more, a big aspect of this store are the Vinyls that we play. I really wanted to bring that live aspect to the store, So I asked one of my friends if she could play an acoustic set here, and that got the ball rolling. It wasn't meant to be a regular thing, but we got such great feedback, so many people hear of it from their friends that we constantly have somebody to play. Its interesting as i find for me personally music and perfume has always been really similar because they both access a part of my brain, sometimes you can see something and it will remind you of a time, or an event, but when you smell something it doesn't just remind you, it transports you, like your physically there.

6. What got you interested in perfume?

For me, its kind of like therapy, I find there is very little that can change my way of thinking like a scent can, and for that reason I have hundreds of perfumes at home that I can wear, depending on my mood and kind of what I need that day. So when you need a confidence perfume, then its nice to have a go to and the same for if you need more energy, or sometimes you just need to feel more grounded. For me, perfume has always been a therapeutic tool rather than a fashion statement. I've always had a habit of smelling random objects, so as a kid I was addicted to smelling things that was always special to me. Whats special to me is when I read a novel at a time, when I go back to that novel and flick through it I can almost feel like I am back reading the novel again.

7. What if your favourite Gorilla perfume and favourite story behind a perfume?

There is so many I've loved over the years, it is really hard to just choose one because there are so many I love it is hard to just say one for me at the moment. There is one, because we don't have it anymore, and always with Rose Tinted Specks, you make it the thing you want. But Icon for me, which is one I didn't get on with at first, I heard a lot about it but when I first smelt it five years ago, I was really disappointed, as I wanted it to be something it wasn't. The notes that are in it don't seem to go with how it smells to me. Its got bergamot, an uplifting element, but its also really deep, as it has murph. I was expecting something dark and sticky, with this brightness coming through, but when I first smelt it I just found it very very woody, very dry. But it has these sharp uplifting notes from the bergamot, it is quite unique, at the moment it is what I am craving.

One of my favourite stories is princess cottongrass. Its a Swedish fairy tale, its quite simple, but what I like about it is the way its connected to the reasons why simon created it. The story was of a princess in a tower in a dark pine forest, she really wanted to go on a journey, she meets an elk. The elk is going on his own way and she wants to join him, she wants to share her heart with the world and share everything she's got to give. Eventually, after lots of refusals, he lets her join him she comes across a lake, looks into the lake, but as she's glancing, her locket falls in and she spends forevermore looking for her heart. The reason I love it is because I see it as a cautionary tale, "don't dwell too long on the sad things that happen in life". Its quite easy to get caught up and just not move on. For me, I love the connection with what was happening with Mark and Simon at the time. They were going through some periods of loss and the cotton flower kept cropping up. Simon opened the book of flowers and it opened to the cotton flowers page and he saw it as a sign. So for me the sign was to keep moving, to carry on and not dwell to long at the lake. A lot of people see it as a sad story, but I see it as positive and you can learn so much from it.


8. I'm still pretty new to the Lush world, so can you tell me what 3 fragrances do you wish were still available that no longer are? And can you describe them?

Icon, which is dark it's really classy, but it has these sharp cheeky notes of bergamot to keep you uplifted. So I am someone who likes to kind of stay grounded, I like to feel safe, so icon does that for me but you have to look for those positives in life and the bergamot for me is those little moments, instead of just staying at a base level, Icon provides me with these little sparks that remind me there are some amazing things happening in life.
Ladyboy was another perfume wish we still had. It was the first one I ever bought from lush. which was apart of their B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful, their original range. People see it as a sweet fragrance, but there are so many unique ingredients, its full of; seaweed, violet, camomile and oak moss. Some really deep, beautiful ingredients, and it has this sweet banana like top note. It's a real contrast, it starts of fun like a carnival, then, once it's under the skin, it becomes a part of you. The sweetness dies down and it becomes warming, like a banana scented hug.
The third was in B Never, is called Om. Not a lot of people know it because it wasn't around long. It was very spicy, and had a very sharpe citrus lemon element to it, very juicy, almost borderline cooking spices, like an amazing indian dessert. I would like Om back but I am aware that it not the most popular, but I love unusual fragrances.

9. What is your favourite part of your job and what else does it involved that we might not know about?

The main favourite part of my job is being surrounded by perfume, to try the perfumes on during the day. Just being lost in another world. But also working with the people we work with. That's the other positive thing about working in store is such a great team, everyone is really close. Also I love the fact that we have a creative input in store. We have the; scented songs, the chocolate tasting, setting up our own events, and we even pair our perfumes with the records as well. It's that mixed with the warmth of the family environment working here. I guess something that some people might not know, is that this store is also a training ground, so we have staff from other stores come to work here to get a real understanding of the perfumes.

10. Finally, we can see you are working with The Chocolate Festival and on the Scented Cinema with Lush Oxford street, is there anything else can we look forward to seeing in the future?

Maybe more of the same really, the chocolate festival is so popular, and its something that works really well. I think music is something we want to expand on as a team. We would love to have an all day scented songs festival. As far as events go we are really up for anything, as long as it relevant and suits our ethics. We also do scents for art exhibitions so definitely more of that in the future.

Thank you to Jon and the lovely Gorilla Perfumes staff for welcoming us and giving us their time, I had a beautiful scented day and can not thank you enough for taking the time when you were so busy to chat to be and to share our love of fragrances. Thank you to everyone for reading my blog, I hope you have enjoyed it. Do comment and let me know your experiences with the Gorilla Perfume store and scents. I hope you all are having a wonderful Festive Holiday!



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